Butte County, California


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Gridley, Butte County, California

Taken from The Gridley Centennial Pictorial History Book 1850-1900 by the Junior Women's Club of Gridley.


Butte County was originally a bountiful land of groves of oak trees, fields of manzanita brush, marshes and lakes in the rainy season. The valley floor abounded with wild game, geese and ducks overhead, deer, antelope, tule elk, the coyote, and many smaller varieties of animal life. Fish swarmed in the rivers and creeks. Several tribal groups of the Maidu lived along the rivers.

In 1808 an expedition of Spanish soldiers led by Gabriel Moraga traveled from Mission San Jose inland toward the Great Valley. He saw the formations of the Sutter Buttes rising abruptly and starkly from the flat floor of the surrounding valley. On his return he gave a dismal report on the surrounding valley lands as future sites of missions because of the evidences of the tremendous floods occuring during the rainy seasons.

In the 1850s George W. Gridley settled a 960 acre home ranch west of the town site that was to be named after him. Gridley was established in 1870 when the California and Oregon Railroad was constructed north from Marysville. The railroad reached Chico on July 2, 1870. The town site was named for Gridley, a wool grower and grain farmer who at the time was one of the three or four largest landowners in Butte County. It was located at the place where Gridley convinced the railroad company to build a side track he could use to load his wool and grain on to rail cars for shipment to market.

The decade of the sixties brought the rise of agriculture to the county. As a decline of mining led people to seek more stable livelihoods, the state legislature enacted the Fence Law requiring cattle to be fenced and making it possible to raise crops.

In March of 1877 the Oroville Mercury reported that eleven years prior land in the Gridley area could have been purchased for about $1.25 an acre.Good agricultural lands now sold for $25 to $50 an acre. In 1878, Thomas Cox (cox5001) was listed as a farmer with 100 acres.

Wells and Chambers' History of Butte County, 1882: "three miles south of Biggs on the California and Oregon Railroad, is the town of Gridley... Nestling pleasantly in the midst of a grove of live oak timber, surrounded by productive farms and elegant farmhouses, and enjoying the quiet prospertiy of an agricultural neighborhood, Gridley is, without doubt, one of the most attractive spots in Butte County. The town was laid out in 1870 at the time the railroad was completed..."

Thomas Fleming conceived of a scheme to construct a weir in the Feather River and digging a canal with service brances to bring irrigation to the south Butte area. The Sutter-Butte Canal Company, brought his project to a successful conclusion. This allowed farmers like Otis Vanderford (6003) to grow rice in the area.

Hazel Street represents the turn of the century as you pass along "silk stocking row" - lined with beautiful 19th century homes. Then you'll find yourself in Gridley's picturesque downtown business district with its old brick building and tree-lined streets.

In the town of Gridley, Jess and Lena Anderson (stuf6005) bought and ran Panecaldo's Bakery in Gridley for many years. Michael Hafferty (shaff6006) owned and operated the Hafferty's Variety store on Kentucky Street. Duane Moss (moss8002) had a butcher shop out on the main highway.

Sutter Buttes

Formed one and a half to two and half million years go, the Sutter Buttes are the world's smallest complete mountain range and can be seen for miles around. Many Maidu Indian villages were once located near the Buttes, and the Indians called the the Spirit Mountains believing that their spirits went here after death.

The Buttes were also an important lookout point for early pioneers and military scouts, and today are enjoyed by thousands who annually come to photograph or capture their beauty on canvas. Scenic drive markers direct motorists around the exterior of the Buttes.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area


Gray Lodge Wildlife Area offers a window to a world of diverse natural wonders. The California Department of Fish and Game invites you to enjoy the 8,400 acres of public lands where wildlife can be viewed in natural surroundings.

The wetlands of Gray Lodge are home to more than 300 kinds of animals. Glistening ponds and marches, crisscrossed by wooded sloughs, provide food, water and shelter for resident and migratory animals.


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